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Help with Regiment/Unit

For what it is worth the group photograph is the earlier of the two as it shows that he had served for three years in his regiment (what ever one it was) prior to the photograph being taken, whilst the one where he is on his own shows that he had served at least six years with his regiment with out a blemish on his record. Interestingly the first image shows that he was a Farrier & Shoeing Smith (trade badge on his sleeve) whilst the other one doesn't so one would assume that he had moved on from the trade that the badge represents. In both he is show with a driving crop as opposed to a short riding crop which, to me, would indicate that he would have had control of a team of horses rather than the one. Although his spurs can clearly be seen in the earlier image they can not be seen in the second one, however it would appear that he was wearing riding boots and not army boots when the second photograph was taken. Lastly the photograph of the group shows that he has one medal ribbon up whilst the in the second one he appears that he has two.
Hello Justine,

Thanks to Don we might have the breakthrough needed.

Are you sure William is wearing a wedding ring in that group photo?

What was the date of the marriage?

What occupation is listed on the marriage certificate?

Have you checked to see if there is anything written on the back of the photos?


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Hello Don,

Thank you very much for your input.

I'm curious how you can tell in the group photo he had served 3 years and in the single 6 years.

The group photo was taken (from the wedding ring evidence) it seems in 1908 or later. That would mean he had served say 1905 - 1908. The other photo would then seem to suggest he served 1908 -1911. William was not in the army at the time of 1911 census.

Another possibility. The group photo was taken about 1908 suggesting he served 1905 - 1908, in India possibly with the Royal Horse Artillery. What if he was in a totally different regiment in the single photo and that it covered the period 1899 - 1905.

William saw service in the Boer War and India, probably in that order given when he was born.

Would you agree narrowing down the period in which he was discharged was the best way to approach this? Or would you say checking the Medal Cards was best? Assuming initially he had no middle name that would reduce the number of William CLARKs to about five I would think, given his dob and service in both places.

We must be able to solve this. :)


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Sorry Dave I should have put my reasoning behind the 3yrs etc when I first posted. In the group photograph he is shown wearing a single chevron on his left sleeve, just above the cuff area, whilst in the other he has two of these chevrons. These were awarded to a soldier who, for a period of time, had served in the army and are known as Length of Service/Good Conduct chevrons (also called Good Conduct Badges). To be awarded one of these a soldier had to serve 2-3 years (dependant on which reference work you use the years given range from two years/ two & a half years/ and three years) and if the soldier was brought up on a charge he could lose the right to wear it if found guilty. Hope it helps.
Thanks so much Don for your input.

Dave - he isn't wearing a wedding ring in the group photo, just in the individual, and he was married in 1908, so i assume the group photo must have been prior to him being married.

They were married in January 1908, and I don't have a marriage certificate for William, but might be worth getting if it would give me his occupation of that time. Where do I get english marriage or birth certficiates, as i have always had the other ones.?

No, there is nothing written on the back of the photos, not even where they were taken. Sorry not much help.

I do know that the 1911 census it says that William is a groom/coachman and I know that he worked for some Lord in Bedfordshire.

Hello Justine,


Oh, my mistake as I thought it was the group photo. I will have to rethink the situation now.

Pity about the photos having nothing on the back.

Details re marriage certificate to follow.


Hello Justine,

Married in January 1908 and a photo in uniform with William wearing a wedding ring. Two chevrons on his sleeve indicating 5-6 years of service.

We know William was not in the army at the time of the 1911 census. So perhaps finding his occupation at this time would be the best move:

Births Sep 1909
CLARK Lilian Violet Biggleswade 3b 307

Year = 1909
Quarter of year = September (July-Sep)
Registration District = Biggleswade
Volume = 3b
Page = 307

Certificates can be ordered on line from the GRO HERE

If he is no longer in the army we have about an 18 month period within which to search for a discharge.
Hi Dave

I have received the marriage certificate and William's occupation at the time of his wedding on 8 January 1908 is as a groom, so i would assume that means he wasnt' in the army still.

so that would mean he was discharged prior to January 1908???

Where to from here, any ideas?

Hello Justine,

That narrows it down a lot. It means no searching from 1908 to 1911.

Also, I'm sure several members here who have access to military records, discharges, medal cards, etc would have looked and not found an obvious candidate. The name is so common there must be lots and nothing to distinguish them apart from regiment. Real pity the regiment can't be determined.

We are still not sure if he served 6 or 9 years. I tend to favour 9 for service in Boer War and then India.

Let's see if someone can find a discharge not long before the marriage date.

Here's a thought. Do they get to keep the uniforms etc or is all the kit supposed to be handed in on discharge?


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Marriages Mar qtr 1908
Clark Lilla Biggleswade 3b 485
Clark William Biggleswade 3b 485
CLARK, William 1879 Coachman Clifton Beds
CLARK, Lilla 1878 Stotfold Beds
CLARK, William Leslie 1908 Clifton Beds
CLARK, Lilian Voilet 1910 Clifton Beds

Thanks for the info, matches all the details I found.
I take it you have seen the `Robinson Family Tree` @ ancestry which has a lot of your connections. ( or is this you?)
Do you know Justin if service was pre 1900 or later? Ive made a couple observations not noted if after which may help narrow search. But if service was pre 1901 for sure then their no good. But if pre 1901, why would a soldier enter `Labourer` as occupation on 1901 census if he was an ex miltary man? of course he was bound to state occupation at time?
Thanks for the reply.

I believe that he was in the army after 1901, or still in the army at that time. I believe he served in India and the Boer War.

I don't believe i have seen the robinson tree on ancestry, and no that isn't me, but i will check it out.

I will see if i can find out anymore information about his occupation.

Hello Justin
Ok the Robinson family tree is on ancestry.co.uk. And I found it when I was searching for your William Clark. The details match many of yours. The tree if you didn’t know also has other names you are researching, including Walter Richard Jeffrey. Hope this helps. Well worth a look
I have read the threads that everyone including Dave & Don has replied with. I hope you don’t mind but I have just made a few points of observation and it may help.
You have agreed the info I have for William as correct & like me think he was in the army after 1901.
Here is a time line I have put together to help break down details we know.

Time line:
1879 Born Clifton, Bedfordshire
1901 Census age 21 BOARDER at Derby, Derbyshire & OCCUPATION LABOURER.
1904 March `Lesley William Clark` Born (out of Wedlock) Bedfordshire. If it is Williams as `Clark` is same Maiden name. Do you have a Birth Cert?
1908 Marriage too Lilla Clark at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire at age 29
1909 Daughter `Lillian Violet Clark` born at age 30.
1911 Cyril George Clark Born NOT ON 1911 Census. Age 32/33 (Found on Robinson Tree)
1911 Census Listed as Coachman/Domestic.
1912 Died with three children
1941/42 Lilla Death.

I have added a couple ideas below. Sadly no regiment answers but a couple thoughts below may help narrow down your search period.

Im going to Assume details are correct. AND he did not complete service prior to 1901.

• If he served prior to 1901 the two stripes give us 3 years meaning enlisting in 1897 at latest aged 18, which is possible.
• I think this info tells us that because the 1901 census lists him as being a Boarder & labourer he was not in the army at this time or prior.
• Because on the 1908 marriage cert it states occupation as GROOM. He was not in the army in 1908 1st Q.
• So his only period at which he could be in the army was between April 1901 & Jan 1908 we have only 7 year window & this is where your records will come from.
• Within that time we have to assume he returned to England nine months prior to Lesley being born in 1904 which puts him home around June /July 1903. Assuming that Lesley was his.
• Why did he wait to marry another 5 years unless he didn’t know she was pregnant when he left.
• With the 2nd Boar war 1899-1902 he had max 1 year before the Boar war ended. So you need to search for a division who left for Africa late 1901 but return by June 1903.

The Photos My thoughts!
• 1st, Sorry but I can’t see the ring in the second photo but this is probably down to the photo quality I have. Of course if he is wearing a wedding ring, why then on the marriage cert does he put just GROOM as occupation & not his Rank? So is there a ring, if so, is this a photo of William Clark known as your Gt Grandfather?
• I’ve checked lots of photos from various sites similar to yours and many of the sitters have `Sticks` which look like riding crops with the brass ends not sure what they are called.
• The Farriers badge on the Rht sleeve is missing in the single portrait after his four year service. One could say as I think some one did he changed professions.
• Is this a badge he would always wear throughout his career?
• In the 1st photo, the group photo, William has a single 2 year service strip. Which means the year is about 1903 and after the trip home to conceive Lesley.
• I suggest the two photos were taken in different locations because of the different backdrops and settings and both after June/July 1903. Because a minimum 2 years service had been completed. Putting the first photo around 1903 & the second single portrait min 2 years later around 1905/6. So possibly at least two different postings in five years or less up to 1908 when he married.

In a nutshell I think William was called up after 1901 when he was listed as Boarder & Labourer
• The group photo was taken around 1903/4
• The second photo taken around 1905/6
• If Lesley b1904 was his then he was in England around June 1903 possibly on leave.
• Married 1908 after service in the army. As stated `Groom` on Marriage cert`.
• Max 7 years service. 1901-1908.
• Was employed as coachman at time of death.
• You mention a news paper article. I haven’t seen it but apart from that is there any other documents which give mention or any reference to military service? Because I cant find anything on any Census, marriage or other document that giving details or reference to any military service, with exception to two photos. Are you sure the Photos are of your G Grandfather?

Hope some of this helps.

Thanks so much for all your help with this.

Firstly, the 1901 census record from the Robinson family is incorrect. That William Clark was born in Derbyshire and I know that my great grandfather was born in Clifton Fields, Bedfordshire. I am still trying to find a 1901 census for him, and because he has such a common name it is quite difficult.

Also Leslie William (or Bill) was actually born in 1908, and he died in 2008 at 100.

So that means that even though Bill was conceived out of wedlock, he was actually born after his parents were married. As they were married in Jan 1908 and he was born in March 1908, not long after though.

Cyril George was born on 24 april 1911, so maybe that is why he is not on the census as it was before then.

Yes I am quite sure it is my great grandfather, as his son Bill gave the photos to my father........in the group photo my g grandfather is actually in the front row and on the right.........so not sure if that is where the confusion maybe..

The only reason we know he was in the army, is that we have 2 photos of him in the army and when he died, we have a local newspaper article from the Bedfordshire Times that says he was found hanging in the stables of his employer and that he had served time in the army, mainly the Boer War and India campaigns. Apparently he didn't cope well with civilian life, so i assume he must of been in the army a while for that to be the case.

Hope this information helps. I know it is hard to find what regiment as i don't really have much information apart from the photos and the newspaper article. Even in his death certificate it doesn't mention much.

Thanks for your help.

Hi Justin Information does help because of the facts you know puts right the wrongs. Throws my time line out a bit LOL.
William Clark is needle in a hay stack, just like John Smith.
Yes I see what you mean, the Robinson Tree has William Clark born 1879 CLIFTON BEDFORDSHIRE then the 1901 census has it Clifton Derbyshire. Which you say is wrong
If cant find the 1901 census he may have already be in the army. Of course it is possible that because that census return was taken in the Civil Parish of DERBY its possible that is was assumed the reporter was saying Clifton DERBYSHIRE without confirming Derbyshire or Bedfordshire. Its a long shot.

Found this 1901 Return - William Clark b1879- age 22 -General Labourer- Boarder- from ARLESEY Bedfordshire (One mile from Clifton ) Now the thing to note here is the only other person from Bedfordshire on this census return is the 31 year old Samuel Cooper who is head of the house. He’s also from the same home town Arlesey one mile from Clifton. And a general labourer. Of course no way of confirming unless S. Cooper is connected to your tree in some way related.
Piece: 1242
Folio: 9
Page Number: 10
Any good?

Just to confirm; the 1911 census has William Leslie Clark age 3. Puts him born 1908 as you say
The Robinson tree they have William Leslie Clarke with an `E` b 1904 - 3b 316.
That puts the time line out. Now he`s not confirmed as being in UK 1903 June/ July.
So really then the two pieces wrong on the Robinson tree is the 1901 census , Derbyshire & the William Leslie Birth details 1904. Is everything else ok?

Am I right about the ring? Is there a ring in the photo? I can’t see one but its been mentioned.

Hello TT,

We have indication of 2 1/2 to 3 years service and of 5 to 6 years service. No one yet has been able to identify the regiment by uniform or by date event. We can't say if therefore it is 7 1/2 to 9 years or just 5 to 6 years service. We also can't say if it's one or several regiments or if there was a gap in service.

We really don't know when either photograph was taken. I'd still like to know from someone more expert in military matters about his uniform and kit and if it was normal to keep it or return it at discharge. If William is wearing the wedding ring then he may have been very recently discharged and the photo taken soon after the marriage.

I'm tending towards 7 1/2 to 9 years service in at least 2 regiments and a discharge just before he married. We need someone to prove that right or wrong.

It would be a difficult task trying to trace all regiments to find one that could fit a timeline for Boer War and India even if it was assumed it was the same regiment.